When longtime freinds and creative collaborators Bryan Turcotte and Kenny Ochoa decided to film a documentary series, they weren’t particulary worried about the “what,” “when,” or “where.” They felt like being overly-detailed in their set up would take away from their bigger mission: to focus completely on the “who.” In this case, that meant bold artists, risk-taking muscians, and a coffee maverick.
The first season of Freethinkers — which airs on Uproxx — reveals the duo’s obession with people who live distinct, passion-filled lives, without obessing over traditional metrics of success. The series focuses on the work of each subject and helps to explain the rationale behind their creative output… even when that rationale perhaps seems counterintuitive in a world laser focused on getting famous or rich.
As we approach tomorrow’s launch of the final episode of Freethinkers, we spoke to Kenny and Bryan about the project. The result was a conversation that’s sure to inspire any would-be creative maverick or iconoclast.
I guess my first question is the vaguest, which is: What did you set out to do with this project? What was the goal?
Bryan: I think that our goal was that we wanted to create something that felt authentic and not just hype, you know? We’re always sort of striving, and probably a lot of the reason why Kenny and I even have become friends is that we have that same philosophy of living one’s truth and sort of doing things that compel you and for the right reasons and not necessarily just for fame and fortune or notoriety or whatever.
That’s sort of how it came together. The idea of that and specific characters in our world. When we go to New York, the first place we go to is Abraço Coffee — which is featured in episode one. We love Jamie, he’s that really special kind of person that we dubbed a “free thinker” because he would be doing what he’s doing with success or without it; with notoriety or no notoriety.
Those are the free thinkers — they’re compelled to live how they want and so we felt compelled to show little featurettes on these people and kind of be a fly on the wall and we do multiple shoots with them so that they kind of lose the idea that there’s a camera and a microphone at all.
The mini-docs feel less like information-filled pieces and more like these fun stories peppered with inspiration.
Bryan: What we’re trying to do is to inspire — much more than just to tell the story of what these people have done. It’s about trying to glean a philosophy or an inside vision of people that we think are special. It’s purposefully not told in a “tell us your name and what do you do and what do you create?” sort of way.
We know that there’s a little vagueness with some of these stories in terms of “where is this?” and “what kind of coffee do they sell?” or “what kind of art do they make?” but that’s intentional.
Kenny: I think inspiration is obviously the key word that keeps coming up. Both Bryan and I have had full careers in and out of music and advertising and I think what you find out is that people inspire you and experience you. Free Thinkers is an experience, full of people who inspire us. There’s no commercial aspect to it… we didn’t sit down and go “Hey we gotta make these documentaries to sell.” We just want to make great art about people that are inspired to create an experience for others.
Bryan: Yeah, the goal is to try and create a whole community of people who literally inspire another generation to say “I don’t need permission to be this person, I can just do what I want.” Kenny and I both come from punk rock roots as well. I mean it’s the same idea of, “Just do it yourself, don’t ask permission. Just start doing something. Live your truth. Don’t worry about what people are gonna think.”
Kenny: And it’s interesting to see people who approach their craft and their lives differently. They don’t care about what the norm is and how you’re supposed to do things. They just do it they only way they can.